XPerience the Delays

Hey, Redmond! When it comes to the latest, take the time to make sure it’s the greatest.

Do you have a friend or family member who’s always late? Tell-Uncle-Frammis-Dinner’s-at-6, the-Rest-of-You-Show-Up-at-7 late? Sure you do. Uncle Frammis’ saving grace is that he’s predictably late; otherwise, you’d slam the door in his face and make him forage for edible mushrooms in the woods with the wandering packs of feral gerbils.

Auntie draws this extended analogy in light of the release slippages for Windows XP, and the more accurate re-christening of the Whistler Server line as Windows 2002.

The trades are abuzz that XP, the desktop unification of the 9x and NT operating systems, is, predictably, having more than its share of issues running legacy (that is, 9x and DOS) applications. XP has compatibility modes for these apps, but in these days of doublespeak, compatibility is subjective. Did you really think that all your old custom apps would run under XP? Sheesh.

Compatibility may be subjective to those who spin for a living, but for those of us who toil in IT-land (and our customers), it’s a simple yes/no test: When I open up ToxicWasteDumpManager, does it run? Delaying the new desktop OS is a worthwhile trade-off if Microsoft kicks up its compatibility success rate.

The same holds true on the server side. As we all learned from Windows 2000, good things are worth the wait. Auntie’s not spinning, but even the most cynical of us agree that Win2K is a quantum leap from NT, at least in stability if nothing else.

Then there’s the matter of implementation time. Upgrading enterprise desktops to Win2K Professional often requires hardware enhancements; once an IT project moves into the capital expenditure arena, it takes longer to accomplish physically and financially. Upgrading servers has been an even more drawn-out process, because of the brainwork needed to re-architect flat NT organizations for migration to a more stable Active Directory structure. The investigative work required in a large enterprise—defining DNS, evaluating how resource domains will fit in the new structure, mapping topology after topology—can take longer than a capital equipment request.

Like Win2K Pro, Windows XP requires beefy desktop hardware—beefy in comparison to the requirements for a 9x box, at least. Organizations that have kept 9x systems in their structures have had two more years to amortize that hardware and may be ready to retire those boxes, but they’re still going to have to put in the order.

The point of all this thrashing about is that the delays in XP/2002 release dates are probably not going to cause any great anxiety among IT departments. Is there anything within these OSs that you, your employer or your customer just can’t live without?

Auntie’s message to the Redmond kids: Take all the time you need to ensure that XP and Windows 2002 work as advertised. We’ll put them into our plans once they’re locked in, and we’ll probably wait for Service Pack 1 as well. Strengthen XP’s legacy compatibility and don’t put any not-quite-stable features in Windows 2002.

We’d rather have your best work than a product shipped at 11:58 p.m. on the last day of a quarter.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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